San, noun

/sæn/, /san/, /sɑːn/
Forms:
Saan, SaenShow more Also Saan, and (formerly) Saen, Sana.
Origin:
NamaShow more Nama, ‘collector (of food)’; a name given to this people by the Khoikhoi (see quotation 1988).
1. A name originally given by the Khoikhoi to a member of an indigenous people of southern and south-western Africa, traditionally hunter-gatherers, now living mainly in the Kalahari regions of Angola, Botswana, and Namibia, in dwindling numbers; Bosjesman sense 1; Bushman sense 1 a; Houzouana; Saap; Soa; cf. Sonqua. Also attributive. See also Bush adjective2, Heikum, Khoisan sense 1, Masarwa.
Note:
In the early 1970s, academic and scientific writers preferred the term ‘San’ to ‘Bushman’, the latter being perceived as pejorative. However, ‘San’ is now believed by some to have been a derogatory word when used by the Khoikhoi, and ‘Bushman’ is again in use among scholars (see quotation 1993).
Note:
Latterly the supposed distinction (in culture, and often in language) between San and Khoikhoi has come to be considered as spurious, and many writers now refer to these peoples collectively as ‘the Khoisan’.
1830 A. Smith in S. Afr. Quarterly Jrnl I. 171To this [division] the other tribes, as well as its own members, apply the name of Saap or Saan, and history describes a portion thereof under the appellation of Bushmen.
1853 F. Galton Narr. of Explorer in Tropical S. Afr. 42A savage loses his name, ‘Saen,’ which is the Hottentot word, as soon as he leaves his Bushman’s life and joins one of the larger tribes..; and therefore when I say Oerlam, Hottentot or Bushman, the identically same yellow, flat-nosed, woolly-haired, clicking individual must be conjured up.., but differing in dirt, squalor, and nakedness, according to the actual term employed.
1876 Encycl. Brit. IV. 575Bushmen or Bosjesmans, so named by the British and Dutch colonists of the Cape, but calling themselves Saab or Saan are an aboriginal race of South Africa, allied in some respects to the Hottentots.
1881 T. Hahn Tsuni-‖Goam 3In the Nama language, one of the Khoikhoin idioms, the Bushmen are called Sa-n (com. pl.). The meaning of this term is not quite intelligible.
1905 W.H. Tooke in Flint & Gilchrist Science in S. Afr.Aug. 17The Hottentot name for the Bushman was San, Sonqua and Obiqua or robber.
1920 S.M. Molema Bantu Past & Present 22The Bushman race, or, as they termed themselves, the Sana.
1977 R. Elphick Kraal & Castle 28The word San could..be exceedingly flexible in reference. It was applied not only to hunter-gatherers but to small-scale stock breeders like the Horisans and Sangomomkoa.
1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. p.xi‘Khoisan’ refers to indigenes of so-called ‘Hottentot’ (Khoi) and ‘Bushman’ (San) stock.
1981 Voice 23 June 7The Saan people in the Kalahari Desert have a different view of God. The Saan speak directly to their God, asking him for guidance through the moon.
1988 H. Angula in B. Wood Namibia 1884–1984 103The San do indeed now also call themselves by the name San, a word which originally meant hoarding, collecting fruits, digging roots and capturing animals. Anthropological studies tend to classify the San people with the Khoi-Khoi people in a ‘Khoisan race...Anthropologists believe them to be descendants of a Late Stone Age people who roamed southern Africa at least 30,000 years ago...Nevertheless, the origin of the San people is a matter of controversy amongst notable scientific researchers.
1988 H. Angula in B. Wood Namibia 1884–1984 114Informed estimates place the number of San now living in the Kalahari Sandveld regions of Botswana, Namibia and Southern Angola at above 55,000. The main San groups, found in the north-east of Namibia now include the Heikum, the Kwankara, the Ovangola, and the Kung or !Khang, who are the most numerous.
1990 E. Holtzhausen in Sunday Times 31 Mar. 15David — ‘I am a Bushman not a San’ — and his tribe live on the Kagga Kamma game reserve,..overlooking the barren, sandy scrubland of the Great Karoo.
1993 J.A. Louw Informant, PretoriaSaan is a Khoi word meaning collector i.e. of food. It has a slightly pejorative meaning and the Bush people do not like it.
2. The group of languages or dialects spoken by this people; Bosjesman sense 2; Bush noun2; Bushman sense 2. Also attributive. See also Khoisan sense 2.
Note:
Although general Khoikhoi and general San are said to be ‘distinct language families’, to the early colonists each appeared to be understood by speakers of the other. See also Khoikhoi sense 2.
1883 R. Crust Mod. Langs of Afr. II. 442Bleek was engaged busily working at his San Dictionary up to ten o’clock on the night of August 16, 1875, and he was suddenly called away the following morning.
1967 D.S. Parlett Short Dict. Lang. 73The Khoin or ‘Click’ languages..comprising to the south Bushmen (San), to the north Hottentot (Nama) [etc.].
1977 C.F. & F.M. Voegelin Classification & Index World’s Lang. 201South African Khoisan. Central...36. San = Saan.
A name originally given by the Khoikhoi to a member of an indigenous people of southern and south-western Africa, traditionally hunter-gatherers, now living mainly in the Kalahari regions of Angola, Botswana, and Namibia, in dwindling numbers; Bosjesman1; Bushman1 a; Houzouana; Saap; Soa;
The group of languages or dialects spoken by this people; Bosjesman2; Bushnoun; Bushman2. Also attributive.
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